Canyon Ferry Lake, Montana, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Canyon Ferry Lake — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

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Looking for Canyon Ferry Lake cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.

All About Canyon Ferry Lake

For lake lovers who relish the beauty of nature and the wonder of wildlife, there’s no better place to relax and have fun than at Canyon Ferry Lake. At 35,181 acres, Canyon Ferry Lake is one of Montana’s largest lakes, and one of the most popular recreational lakes in the state. It’s long and narrow, stretching 27 miles long, with 76 miles of shoreline. The lake offers breathtaking views of the Big Belt range of the Rocky Mountains (named for the limestone belt encircling the mountains), and is conveniently located only 15 to 20 miles away from Helena, Montana’s capital city.

Canyon Ferry Lake is a reservoir created by impounding the Missouri River. Canyon Ferry Dam, which was completed in 1954, is operated by the Bureau of Reclamation. The lake’s water is used for many purposes, including irrigation, hydropower, and flood control. Canyon Ferry Lake got its unique name from history. Back in the 1800’s, it was one of the places where miners and prospectors were ferried across the Missouri River.

With many points of access and plenty of nearby amenities, Canyon Ferry Lake is excellent for recreation. For boaters, there are several marinas, docks, and boat launches. Campers who want to bring their tents to sleep in the great outdoors have their pick of several nearby campgrounds. There are also areas to picnic, swim, and relax in the outdoors.

Visitors can enjoy almost any type of water sport on Canyon Ferry Lake. Water skiing and sailing are popular activities, but you can also enjoy windsurfing, motor-boating, and fishing. Anglers will enjoy casting their lines and reeling in walleye, rainbow trout, brown trout, ling (cobia), and perch.

The Canyon Ferry Lake area is a superb place to explore the wonderful world of nature. There is abundant wildlife in the area, and the Canyon Ferry Wildlife Management Area at the south end of the lake is a perfect spot to observe various types of birds and animals. It’s a bird watcher’s paradise with geese, herons, terns, ospreys, pelicans, and songbirds. Another unique spectacle in the area is the large groups of eagles that feed at the lake during the fall.

Montana winters may be chilly, but the snow and ice caused by the freezing temperatures make Canyon Ferry Lake perfect for winter sports. Ice fishing, ice boating, and ice boat racing are popular wintertime activities. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling are other fun ways to enjoy the crisp winter air and soak in the beautiful scenery.

The beauty of Canyon Ferry Lake is unrivaled, and there are plenty of activities to keep the outdoor lover busy. Anglers, hunters, and nature lovers alike will appreciate the bounty of wildlife that surrounds it.

Things to Do at Canyon Ferry Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding

Fish Species Found at Canyon Ferry Lake

  • Brown Trout
  • Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Trout
  • Walleye

Find Places to Stay at Canyon Ferry Lake

If you’re considering a Canyon Ferry Lake lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Canyon Ferry Lake Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Canyon Ferry Lake lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Canyon Ferry Lake Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Bureau of Reclamation

Surface Area: 33,500 acres

Shoreline Length: 76 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 3,797 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 3,809 feet

Maximum Depth: 160 feet

Water Volume: 1,891,888 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1955

Drainage Area: 15,860 sq. miles

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